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The Origins Of “Sweet Caroline” By Neil Diamond
“Sweet Caroline” by Neil Diamond combined some unexpected ingredients: the Kennedys, baseball, and an ex-wife on its way to becoming a beloved song by millions. Released in 1969, the good vibrations, go-to karaoke banger rose to #4 on Billboard's Hot 100. However, the ubiquitous love for the feel-good hit really rose to prominence, thanks to the Boston Red Sox and the superstitions of one of their employees.
Ironically, Diamond himself quickly scribbled the song in a Memphis hotel just to fill the standard three-song quota for studio time. thanks to Diamond’s masterful manipulation of the media. So who was this “Sweet Caroline” and how did it become the anthem for Sox fans across the country? Read on to find out.
When Diamond first started receiving questions about the origins of “Sweet Caroline” he told the “Today” show, “I was writing a song in Memphis, Tennessee, for a session. I needed a three-syllable name. The song was about my wife at the time — her name was Marsha — and I couldn’t get a ‘Marsha’ rhyme.”
An Unlikely Hit
Apparently, Diamond wrote the song under the gun, needing a third song to fill a three-hour recording session the very next day. That’s probably why Diamond also said of the song, "I think there's a little bit of God in that song. I always have felt that. There's no accounting for what can happen to a song."
Reportedly, the college procrastination provenance did not inspire much confidence. Bass player Tommy Cogbill recalled, "Neil didn't like the song at all. I actually remember him not liking it and not wanting it to be a single."
A Change Of Story
However, in 2007 Diamond changed his tune on the inspiration for “Sweet Caroline.” While performing the song for Caroline Kennedy’s 50th birthday party Diamond revealed, "I've never discussed it with anybody before - intentionally. I thought maybe I would tell Caroline when I met her someday. I'm happy to have gotten it off my chest and to have expressed it to Caroline. I thought she might be embarrassed, but she seemed to be struck by it and really, really happy."
Diamond admitted, "It was a picture of a little girl dressed to the nines in her riding gear, next to her pony. It was such an innocent, wonderful picture, I immediately felt there was a song in there."
A Boston Resurgence
While the song did very well in the decade, Boston White Sox musical maestro, Amy Tobey, started fitting it in during the later innings thanks to her own superstitions. "I actually considered it like a good luck charm," Tobey told The Boston Globe in 2005. "Even if they were just one run [ahead], I might still do it. It was just a feel."
New management liked the song so much they asked her to replace the traditional "Take Me Out to the Ball Game” with “Sweet Caroline” in 2002. Right on cue, a team that suffered from endless heartbreak started rattling off World Series Titles one after the other.
A Triumph Over Tragedy
In 2013, after the Boston Marathon bombing, Diamond himself went to Bean Town to perform in the wake of the attack. As he announced to an emotional Fenway crowd, "What an honor it is for me to be here today. I bring love from the whole country," before belting the iconic tune with nearly 38,000 Bostonians. Downloads of the song increased by almost 600% after that and Diamond announced he would donate all the proceeds to the One Fund Boston.
Tags: Neil Diamond | Sweet Caroline
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